Another magnificent piece of music: Haydn’s Te Deum, which was performed for a visit of Admiral Nelson to the Austrian court in 1800. It can be sampled (and even better, acquired) here.
This ancient hymn is glorious in itself, and Haydn’s triumphal score sets it beautifully. Some great lines:
Te Deum laudamus,
te Dominum confitemur.
We praise thee, O Lord; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur. . .
Thee, the Father everlasting, all the earth doth worship. . .
Te gloriosus apostolorum chorus,
te prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
te martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus. . .
Thee, the glorious choir of the apostles,
Thee, the admirable company of the prophets,
Thee, the white-robed army of martyrs doth praise. . .
Tu rex gloriae, Christe.
Thou, O Christ, art the King of glory.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
Tu, ad liberandum suscepturus hominem,
non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Thou, having taken upon thee to deliver man,
didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo,
aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum. . .
Thou, having overcome the sting of death,
hast opened to believers the kingdom of heaven. . .
Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine,
et benedic hereditati tuae. . .
O Lord, save thy people, and bless thine inheritance. . .
Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos,
quemadmodum speravimus in te.
Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have trusted in thee.
In te, Domine, speravi;
non confundar in aeternum.
In thee, O Lord, have I trusted;
let me not be confounded for ever.
That last line is absolutely magnificent, as Haydn plays it out into a minute-long meditation of confidence and faith.
I don’t know why, but somehow prayers and psalms mean more to me in Latin. Maybe because the language forces me to think about them slowly, rather than racing glibly through the phrases.
In te Domine speravi; non confundar in aeternum.